I first heard her voice around Christmas time 2006 when I heard "You Know I'm No Good" and I thought, "wow pretty cool." But no hook. Then later the following summer, when most of America did, with "Rehab" on constant rotation on the radio. Still no hook.
Then, the next summer, I heard my friend's Frank CD, and the intro track "Stronger than Me" had me instantly hooked.
Her emotional rawness, her wit, her vocal strength and breathtaking vocal arrangement had me in her grips. I was obsessed since.
That summer, I downloaded (almost) everything Winehouse, and by far "You Sent Me Flying" was my favorite.
It spoke to the fragility of both unrequited love and youth in a way that no one had ever really dealt with. When I think about it, beyond her amazing voice, what I loved was her songwriting talent. Principally, I loved that she decided to write songs in a way that no one else really wrote. Her instrumentation breezed along as her perfectly poetic lyrics about imperfection and observation drove her songs. Finding out later that she mainly wrote the words and vocal arrangements and was assisted with the hip-hop and later soul-based beats, reinforced the fact that Amy's voice (both vocally and lyrically) was the highlight of every song.
Many of her devoted fans believe that her Frank LP was better than her more popular Back to Black LP. And to some degree, I agree with that opinion. I didn't really appreciate Amy until after hearing most of Frank. It may be because Frank relied on a more raw sentiment, with songs like "Fuck Me Pumps" running the show, and gritty hip-hop beats (like using the instrumentation in "Made You Look") cementing this feeling. With Back to Black, Amy was geared towards a more polished, old-time path.
In an interview she stated that she loved the drama of 60s motown. In Back to Black she used the motown model not just in instrumentation and vocal arrangement, but also, in a way, her lyrics. Her songs more succinctly employed her characteristic wit and fragility into a melodic pop-based manner. While palpably less raw in form, in content Amy still shined through with songs like "Just Friends"-
Overall, its hard to say I have a favorite Amy song, and if I could, I would post every song I knew to remember her. In fact, to even attempt to tribute her, in a blog post, or any other means, is quite difficult. But that proves a testament to her and the pricelessness of her work in her short period of time.
Ever since I heard "Stronger than Me" I wanted her to be well, I wanted her to put out more work and I wanted to see her live one day. But for the past few years that never happened, and each headline about her seemed more helpless than the last. I know that many people will remember her for her public fall. But for me, I always have and always will remember her for the joy her music gave me. And I guess death for her, while it may not make her more famous or make her songs sound different, will provide her the peace she looked for in her life.
Many people have commented on the "27" club of incredibly talented musicians who died (under presumably the same circumstances as her, via drugs) at the age of 27, including Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison. It now includes her.
M.I.A. posted a song on SoundCloud called "27" the day after Amy's passing.
On twitter, she wrote: "i recorded this song b4 vickileekx but never put it out. its an unfinished demo...R.I.P.A.M.Y" (To date, I think it is one of M.I.A.'s best songs). And where words fail to properly pay tribute, I think such a beautiful song pays homage to a beautiful voice.